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March 29, 2020

Not comfortable going to the polls due to the coronavirus outbreak? Here’s how to vote by mail for the primaries

Vote-by-mail opportunities are available in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware

Elections Coronavirus
how to vote by mail pennsylvania new jersey delaware Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

As coronavirus continues to spread across the Greater Philadelphia region, many voters may choose to submit their ballots by mail rather than show up to the polls for the presidential primaries this June.

The coronavirus outbreak has caused both Pennsylvania and Delaware to postpone their 2020 presidential primaries from April 28 to June 2, the same day that New Jersey is scheduled hold its primary election. Across the U.S., there are now 12 presidential primaries scheduled for June 2.

Even though the second Tuesday of June may seem like a safe date, far off in the distance, state officials have said that they are prepared to make more adjustments to their primary election schedules, if the situation does not improve.

Many voters will certainly be hesitant about visiting the voting booth to cast their ballots if the virus has not been mitigated and normal life has not returned. Luckily for residents, they can vote in the primaries via a mail-in or absentee ballot.

Here’s how to vote by mail in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware for the upcoming primaries.

How to vote by mail-in or absentee ballot in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania registered voters have the choice to vote by a mail-in or absentee ballot for its elections. While both ballots are submitted by mail, there is a difference between the two. Mail-in ballots can be requested without a reason, while absentee ballots require explanation from the voter. That reason might be that the voter will not be in his or her municipality for the election or that he or she has an illness or disability that prevents them from getting to the polls.

Residents who wish to vote by mail-in or absentee ballot can apply either online with a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license or photo ID from PennDOT, by mail, or in-person at their county election office. 

When applying for absentee ballots, voters are required to list a reason for why he or she will not be able to go to the polls on Election Day.

If the application is accepted, voters will receive a ballot with instructions from the county election office. Then, fill out the ballot and send it back to the county election office.

In accordance with the change to its presidential primary date, Pennsylvania said that mail-in and absentee ballot applications will be accepted through May 26, which is exactly a week before the primary.

For more information, check out Votes PA.

How to vote by mail-in ballot in New Jersey

Unlike Pennsylvania, New Jersey has one mail-in ballot option for registered voters who will not be able to or choose not to go to the polls on Election Day. Furthermore, residents do not need to provide an explanation for voting by mail.

However, New Jersey does not provide its residents with an option to apply online, as applications must be submitted via mail or in-person. Residents who wish to vote by mail must submit their application to their county clerk by May 26, which is seven days before the primary election.

After receiving the ballot in the mail, fill it out and send it back to the county clerk. In-person applicants have until 3:00 p.m. on June 1 to submit their information to the county clerk. 

For more information, check out the New Jersey Division of Elections.

How to vote by absentee ballot in Delaware

Delaware residents who are registered voters and unable or choose not to vote in-person on Election Day have the option to submit an absentee ballot. Voters can request an absentee ballot by submitting an “Affidavit for Absentee Ballot.” Residents are not required to provide an explanation for requesting an absentee ballot.

The application can be submitted either online, by mail, or in-person to the Department of Elections in the county where residents are registered to vote. Voters are encouraged to submit their affidavits as soon as possible ahead of an election.

Residents can vote via absentee ballot by mail or in-person at the Department of Elections county office. Voters who wish to cast their absentee ballots in-person are encouraged to contact the county office ahead of time to confirm when ballots will be available and able to be submitted. Residents are required to bring ID and can submit an absentee ballot in-person as late as 12:00 p.m. on June 1, the day before the election.

Department of Elections county offices will send absentee ballots to those voting by mail as soon as they become available, which is typically 35 days before a primary election. Absentee ballots via mail must be received by the county office by the time that polls close on Election Day, which is 8:00 p.m. in Delaware.

For more information, check out the Delaware Department of Elections.

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